“On a beautiful sunny day, you look up into the sky and see a nice, puffy cloud floating through. You admire its shape, the way the light falls upon its many folds and the shadow it casts on the green field. You fall in love with this cloud. You want it to stay with you and keep you happy. But then the shape and color change. More clouds join with it, the sky becomes dark, and it begins to rain. The cloud is no longer apparent to you. It has become rain. You begin to cry for the return of your beloved cloud.
You would not cry if you knew that by looking deeply into the rain you would still see the cloud.”
Excerpt From: Thich Nhat Hanh. “No Death, No Fear.” Penguin, 2002.
I have these moments, too, do you? These moments when you see through what you ordinarily see into some space or time or place that is there all along, and mostly unseen. “You fall in love with this cloud.”
Yesterday evening, I fell in love with the little bit of western sky I can see through the late spring leaves on the tree I love, and live with, on my front lawn. For a few moments, I was completely grateful for the bright red streak of sky that lingered behind the branches of the tree, across the street, across the Bay… I didn’t want to take my eyes off the scene, because I knew it would be gone in a breath. My husband had his back to the splendor, and so I had him sit on the couch next to the window, to see what I was seeing. Ahhh…
These moments, these precious, precious moments of life as a sentient being are so fleeting, each moment here and gone, here and gone. And it is possible – although I forget about it, although I am so often preoccupied with the thoughts going around inside of my head, although I am often bothered by a feeling that seems to linger – to be here, now, to witness each moment, each fleeting moment of a cloud that has formed and is forming and will be, forever forming, and to fall in love.
Thich Nhat Hanh goes further in his thoughts, though. He invites us to know, to honor, to remember those moments when we establish a relationship with another part of this vast and wonderful creation, and we honor its life, its life force, its reality, its ever-ness. What we know in our hearts will never be taken from us. What we love is and will always be part of us, with us, in us. The cloud is us, I am sure Thich Nhat Hanh would say. What is beloved is never lost. In our human-ness, we love when and how we can, but the connection continues, forever.
The “cloud-ness” of the cloud will never end, even as what we see evaporates before our eyes.
And isn’t that true of each moment? Isn’t each moment, that brief moment in time, holy and whole, and isn’t it with us, even as it passes? Isn’t it true that some moments you will see and feel and hear and know forever, although they have passed? And they are in you, with you, they are you, and you are those moments…
How completely alive we would be if we were awake enough to fall completely, hopelessly, effortlessly in love with each moment!
As for the tears when the moment passes, when our beloved passes from our lives, when the little ones grow too soon, when a friend leaves or goes away, they are part of us, too. Tears in a way, honor the one we love. And then, the tears pass, too.